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CA MB: Poplar River residents under curfew due to roaming wolves

Julia Douglas says pack of wolves seen near community about 350 km north of Winnipeg

By Elisha Dacey, CBC News

A pack of wolves has killed at least two dogs in Poplar River First Nation and now the residents are under a curfew.

Julia Douglas found her neighbour’s dog torn to shreds in late November after following a trail that led to blood and remains near her home.

“The first dog I found,” said Douglas. “That was my neighbour’s dog.

“My uncle and my brother heard the dogs go crazy one night, and they told me one morning and I followed the tracks with my little brother. [We discovered] a lot of blood and that’s when I found that dog in the bush, all chewed up.

“That was in the community, only a three minute walk from where I stay.”

Her uncle went to her home a few days later to say he had found a second dog that had been attacked in the community about 350 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

“It was my other neighbour’s dog, in the middle of the ice. Just the arm and the head was left. He tracked the wolves to the middle of the river here.”

Poplar River’s chief and council posted a notice Jan. 5, informing residents of an official curfew starting at 10 p.m. and continuing nightly until further notice, after wolves were again spotted near the community.

“The fire department and volunteers will be on patrol with firearms,” it says. “Traffic and movement is to be restricted to emergency only.

“When it gets dark, everybody just goes home,” said Douglas. “Nobody’s walking around or whatnot ’cause that’s the only time when the wolves are around, when it’s dark.”

Wolves are opportunistic

This is the first the province has heard of wolves attacking dogs this year, said Janine Stewart, human wildlife conflict management biologist with Manitoba Sustainable Development.

“I haven’t heard anything similar with other areas; that doesn’t mean it’s not occurring,” she said.

The province is home to about 6,000 wolves, said Stewart.

“We don’t really have any data to suggest there’s been any changes” to the province’s wolf population due to stress or less availability of food during this winter’s extreme cold, she said.

However, wolves are predators who will take opportunities to feast on easy prey, she said.

“Whenever there’s a chance at them to obtain easy food in an easy manner, they’re going to go for that.”

To avoid contact with wolves, communities should do things like make sure garbage is secured and pets are not left outdoors without supervision, said Stewart.

While wolves are known to go after larger prey, they tend to avoid humans, she added.

Anyone who has a negative encounter with a wolf or a large mammal should contact their Sustainable Development office, said Stewart.